“Every human being deserves a say in the decisions that affect their lives; no one should be subject to the will of another."
This is self-contradictory. I agree that no one should be subject to the will of another, but that’s exactly the objection to democracy, under which we are all subject to the will of another anytime we’re outnumbered.
2. Ecological Wisdom
“Human societies must operate with the understanding that we are part of nature, not separate from nature. We must maintain an ecological balance and live within the ecological and resource limits of our communities and our planet. We support a sustainable society that utilizes resources in such a way that future generations will benefit and not suffer from the practices of our generation.”
Ok, but what are the resource limits? And what is the meaning of “sustainable”? That’s typically code for regulation and the precautionary principle.
“to this end we must have agricultural practices that replenish the soil; move to an energy efficient economy; and live in ways that respect the integrity of natural systems.”
“Must have” here seems to suggest (although I concede it need not) imposed rules.
3.Social Justice and Equal Opportunity
“All persons should have the rights and opportunity to benefit equally from the resources afforded us by society and the environment.“
As Jason has noted, this economic outcome-egalitarianism is not at all consistent with libertarianism, or even Rawlsian liberalism for that matter, and reveals an underlying assumption that “society” is the true “owner” of all resources.
“We must consciously confront in ourselves, our organizations, and society at large, barriers such as racism and class oppression, sexism and heterosexism, ageism and disability, which act to deny fair treatment and equal justice under the law.“
I know that this is the move Roderick wants to make about thick-versus-thin libertarianism, and I know that this is a key source of intra-libertarian dispute, even here at L&P. For now, though, let’s just note that the way it’s expressed here is sufficiently vague that we can’t tell whether it’s consistent with liberty or not.
“It is essential that we develop effective alternatives to our current patterns of violence at all levels, from the family and the streets, to nations and the world. We will work to demilitarize our society and eliminate weapons of mass destruction, without being naive about the intentions of other governments. We recognize the need for self-defense and the defense of others who are in helpless situations. We promote nonviolent methods to oppose practices and policies with which we disagree, and will guide our actions toward lasting personal, community and global peace.“
This doesn’t seem too bad, although again the vagueness is worrisome. Does “demilitarize our society” mean we stop invading other countries, or that the 2nd Amendment can be disregarded? Generic “nonviolence” positions are worthless if they don’t make the moral distinction between aggression and defense.
“Centralization of wealth and power contributes to social and economic injustice, environmental destruction, and militarization.”
Yes, largely due to the state and the ways in which wealth buys political power. In a radically libertarian society, this would be mitigated, and in any case, this conclusion:
“Therefore, we support a restructuring of social, political and economic institutions”
is radically inconsistent with liberty; again, there is the tacit assumption that markets are bad and that society is the proper owner of all resources, which may then be “distributed” in such a way as to achieve “social justice.”
“away from a system that is controlled by and mostly benefits the powerful few,”
That’s an argument against states, not wealth.
“Decision-making should, as much as possible, remain at the individual and local level, while assuring that civil rights are protected for all citizens.”
Well, that’s the real trick, isn’t it? Reconciling democratic decision-making with robust respect for rights (and here we see some artificial distinction between civil rights and property rights) has always been a tall order, and it only makes matters worse if you also think there should be egalitarian resource distribution.
I’m already lost. All economics is community-based. What theory of economics are we talking about here?
“We recognize it is essential to create a vibrant and sustainable economic system, one that can create jobs and provide a decent standard of living, for all people, while maintaining a healthy ecological balance. A successful economic system will offer meaningful work with dignity, while paying a "living wage" which reflects the real value of a person's work.”
Oh, now I see: a Marxist theory.
“economic development that assures protection of the environment and workers' rights, broad citizen participation in planning, and enhancement of our "quality of life".“
Citizen participation in “planning”? That’s the market. Unless we’re talking about command-economy planning.
“We support independently owned and operated companies which are socially responsible,”
Socially responsible meaning what? Not, I presume, in the Milton Friedman sense. So then they must mean that companies are only permitted if they mesh with the politically correct set of values and outcomes.
“We have inherited a social system based on male domination of politics and economics. We call for the replacement of the cultural ethics of domination and control, with more cooperative ways of interacting which respect differences of opinion and gender. Human values such as equity between the -sexes, interpersonal responsibility, and honesty must be developed with moral conscience. We should remember that the process that determines our decisions and actions is just as important as achieving the outcome we want.”
8. Respect for Diversity
“We believe it is important to value cultural, ethnic, racial, sexual, religious and spiritual diversity, and to promote the development of respectful relationships across these lines.”
Sounds good, but let’s see where they go with it:
“We believe the many diverse elements of society should be reflected in our organizations and decision-making bodies”
Ah, so if the society is 37% Minority A, then 37% of all CEOs and surgeons and Senators and college professors must be Minority A?
“we support the leadership of people who have been traditionally closed out of leadership roles.”
I think they mean “people from ethnicities other members of which have in the past been closed out of…” This is an anti-individualist way of thinking of people.
“We acknowledge and encourage respect for other life forms and the preservation of biodiversity.”
While I think Spock was right not to want to kill the Horta, was not the Vampire Cloud also the only one of its kind? Some life forms are a threat to humanity. When respect for biodiversity becomes misanthropic, I draw the line.
9. Personal and Global Responsibility
“We encourage individuals to act to improve their personal well being and, at the same time, to enhance ecological balance and social harmony. We seek to join with people and organizations around the world to foster peace, economic justice, and the health of the planet. “
Sounds good, but there’s that expression “economic justice” again, which they seem to interpret not in free market terms but in terms of egalitarian redistribution.
10.Future Focus and Sustainability
“Our actions and policies should be motivated by long-term goals. We seek to protect valuable natural resources, safely disposing of or "unmaking" all waste we create, while developing a sustainable economics that does not depend on continual expansion for survival. We must counter-balance the drive for short-term profits by assuring that economic development, new technologies, and fiscal policies are responsible to future generations who will inherit the results of our actions.”
“Our” policies? Command economy? And how do we “assure” outcomes as prescribed here?
That’s 1 out of 10. I fail to see how this platform can even remotely be shoehorned into libertarianism. The author of this platform fundamentally fails to see how markets work, or how liberty is indivisible, or how democratic institutions are in conflict with rights, or what it means for rights to be compossible. If Roderick can convince someone who holds all these views to actually respect individual liberty and not be aggressive, he’s the best salesman since Ron Popeil. I think very highly of Roderick, but I don’t see it happening.
While I'm here, some shameless self-promotion: any L&P readers at the Univ of Wisc, feel free to come to a talk I'm giving next Wednesday.
The problem is, this past Tuesday’s SVU episode was flagrantly plagiarized from an Ed McBain “87th Precinct” novel from 1984 (iirc) called Lightning. It was unmistakable: A serial rapist comes back to rape his victims a second or even third time because he's specifically trying to impregnate them - he's spying on them and using calendars to note menstrual cycles etc. The only difference between the two is the reason why he wants to impregnate them, and that it’s the NYPD SVU rather than the 87th precinct of the Isola PD that works the case. Intentional plagiarism? Unconscious? Coincidence? If anyone knows what’s going on, or how I might bring this to the attention of the producers, let me know. If any of you thinks I watch too much TV, let me know that also.
1. One Book That Changed My Life: Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. That’s what caused me to become a professional philosopher. If that’s not life-changing, I don’t know what is.
2. One Book I've Read More Than Once: well, given my profession, there are many, but I’ll disqualify any text I routinely teach from or consult while writing. So let’s go with Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen. Wait, I’ve taught and written about that. But not routinely.
3. One Book I Would Want on a Desert Island: The Barnes edition of The Complete Works of Aristotle.
4. One Book that Made Me Laugh: Recently? Neil Gaiman’s American Gods.
5. One Book that Made Me Cry: Although I’ve been know to tear up at certain movies, I can’t recall a book literally making me cry. But I was almost that sad upon reading Thucydides’ The Peloponnesian War. After the uplifting triumph that was the Persian War, the monstrously destructive stupidity on display a generation later is seriously depressing. Of course, I am also reduced to a near-cry state when I read any of the classics of libertarian thought, but the sadness is not so much due to the book as to the fact that it’s largely ignored.
6. One Book that I Wish Had Been Written: What a strange question. I literally don’t know how to answer that: it requires me to have an opinion about something that doesn’t exist. Ok, I’m “fighting the hypo” as the lawprofs say, so how about “The Collected Dialogues of Aristotle.”
7. One Book I Wish Had Not Been Written: Being a freedom-of-expression guy, I tend to eschew the idea that eliminating bad books is a way to eliminate bad ideas. And indeed, sometimes, it takes a spectacularly bad book to prompt a really excellent response (e.g., Filmer giving Locke something to write about). OTOH, ideas do have consequences, as the saying goes, and maybe there are some books that the world would be better off if they hadn’t been written. But I also have a logician’s sense that counterfactuals are hard to understand – so, e.g., it won’t do to say “well, if Hegel hadn’t written about dialectical idealism in his Phenomenology of Spirit, then we wouldn’t later have seen organic-state fascism or Marxist dialectical materialism” – that sentence has no truth-value. Ok, I’m “fighting the hypo” again, so I’ll just shut up and go with the Hegel.
8. One Book I'm Currently Reading: The System of the World, by Neal Stephenson (no relation, afaik, to Frank). That’s book 3 of the Baroque Cycle.
9. One Book I've Been Meaning to Read: Harold Berman’s second volume of Law and Revolution. Vol. 1 was terrific, but I haven’t gotten around to vol 2 yet.
Tagging: Roderick, Chris, Steve, Amy, Jacob.
THE AMERICAN PHILOSOPHICAL ASSOCIATION
ONE HUNDRED THIRD ANNUAL MEETING PROGRAM
THURSDAY MORNING, DECEMBER 28, 2006
GROUP SESSION II - 9:00-11:00 A.M.
GII-1. American Association for the Philosophic Study of Society
9:00-11:00 a.m., Wilson B (Mezzanine Level)
Topic: Author Meets Critics: Jan Narveson's Respecting Persons in Theory and Practice
Chair: Tibor R. Machan (Chapman University)
Critics: Irfan Khawaja (City University of New York-John Jay College of Criminal Justice)
Carrie-Ann Biondi (City University of New York- John Jay College of Criminal Justice)
Matt Zwolinski (University of San Diego)
Author: Jan Narveson (University of Waterloo)
Bonus: doesn't conflict with the Molinari Society meeting.
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